Helen Zughaib

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Helen Zughaib
Helen Zughaib artist from Lebanon (cropped).jpg
EducationSyracuse University

Helen Zughaib (born 1959) is a painter and multimedia artist living in working in Washington, D.C.. She was the daughter of a State Department civil servant. Her family left Lebanon in 1975 due to the outbreak Lebanese Civil War, and moved to Europe as a teenager, attending high school in Paris. She studied at Northeast London Polytechnic School of Art.[1] She moved to the United States to study visual and performing arts at Syracuse University graduating in 1981 with her BFA.[1] After graduating she took a job designing china which led to her developing her unique painting style.[2] She uses gouache as her primary medium, but also creates mixed media installations.[3] Her themes are centered around hopefulness, healing, and spirituality, using visual arts to shape and foster positive ideas about the Middle East.[1]


Zughaib illustrated Kaleel Sakakeeny’s book “Laila’s Wedding” published in 1994.[4]

Zughaib’s work has been purchased by the United States government to be given as gifts to foreign leaders. In 2009 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave Moroccan King Mohamed V Zughaib’s interpretation of the Washington Monument during Clinton’s trip to Morocco.[5] In 2010 President Barack Obama presented Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with Zughaib’s painting “Midnight Prayers” during the Prime Minister’s visit to the White House.[5]

Zughaib’s work comments on cultural identity, family life, the plight of refugees and displacement in the Middle East, the Arab Spring, and the Lebanese Civil War.[6] Her notable series of 23 paintings titled "Stories My Father Told Me," for example, is based on the folks tales and family history that her Lebanese father has told her over the years, and includes numerous stories of migration and displacement.[7] The complete series was shown at the Arab American National Museum in 2015.[8]

Her 2019 “Syrian Migration Series” shown at the Jerusalem Fund Gallery in Washington, DC was inspired by Jacob Lawrence’s 1940 “Migration Series.” [9]

Zughaib's style combines a variety of art historical references and influences including post-Impressionism and pop art with Islamic art motifs of geometric patterns and floral arabesque.[10] Her work can be found in many notable collections, such as The White House, World Bank, Library of Congress, and the Arab American National Museum.[1] She has had over 20 solo exhibitions in the U.S. and Middle East.[11]



  1. ^ a b c d Fayeq., Oweis (2011). Encyclopedia of Arab American artists. Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-1-84972-847-8. OCLC 755870006.
  2. ^ Dennis, Yvonne Wakim (2013). A Kid's Guide to Arab American History : More Than 50 Activities. Maha Addasi. Chicago: Chicago Review Press. ISBN 978-1-61374-018-7. OCLC 824487174.
  3. ^ "Helen Zughaib - EMERGEAST". emergeast.com. Retrieved 2017-04-30.
  4. ^ Sakakeeny, Kaleel (1994). Laila's wedding. Helen Zughaib Shoreman. Cleveland, Ohio: Modern Curriculum Press. ISBN 0-8136-2328-6. OCLC 28823616.
  5. ^ a b Ferguson, Barbara (Aug 2011). "Painter Helen Zughaib: A Foot in Two Countries and Two Cultures". The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. 30: 34–36 – via ProQuest.
  6. ^ "Hope and loss made vivid". Harvard Gazette. 2017-02-13. Retrieved 2017-04-30.
  7. ^ Saad, Najwa (May 2015). ""Stories My Father Told Me" : Helen Zughaib At the Arab American National Museum". The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. 34: 51 – via ProQuest.
  8. ^ http://arabamericanmuseum.org/stories_my_father_told_me, retrieved 03.29.2018
  9. ^ Hanley, Delinda (Apr 2019). "Helen Zughaib's Syrian Migration Series". The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. 38: 63–64 – via ProQuest.
  10. ^ Jenkins, Mark; Jenkins, Mark (2014-09-25). "Through art, creating a dialogue between Palestinians and others". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-04-30.
  11. ^ http://www.thearabweekly.com/, The Arab Weekly. "'Stories My Father Told Me'". The Arab Weekly. Retrieved 2017-04-30.